I arrived on Thursday and started with a very long walk up to the old opera (Alte Oper). This is the edge of the most fashionable retail section (like NYC 5th ave) which did not interest me, and the “gourmand” area which did. There seemed to be a sort of “taste of Frankfurt” going on, perhaps all summer, with tents operated by restaurants and wineries. It was a very hot day, and I started with a draft cider from a booth that just sold that one thing. The difference between tap and bottled cider seems even more pronounced than with beer, I haven’t cared for any German cider I’ve had from a bottle, but this was quite refreshing with just a hint of fruit. Very dry of course. Next door was a wine booth, so I followed up with a Riesling, very nice, and also very refreshing in the heat. Along with the quality I was most impressed with the ambiance – what could be more natural than great food and great wine while walking along the sidewalk.
Then I went to the modern art museum, which had nearly three floors of a special exhibition on an artist I didn’t care for. There were lots of visitors and the people watching was fun. Then I went to the sculpture museum, which has a very impressive collection, especially Roman and Medieval (mostly German). It is interesting walking between the Greek and Roman pieces trying to get a sense of the plastic change in their conception. The Greek pieces have breathtaking quality to them (there was one 5th cen head that was of pretty high quality). As you follow the timeline in Roman busts there is of course the intense characterization. The Greek conception of volume is lost in a more linear, descriptive style. I walked between the two rooms a few times to try to see the change in terms of volume rather than description. The later European work seemed strongest in Baroque and Rococo. It is a good cure for any assumptions about “less is more”. Our sense of design seems to move in poles between exuberance and restraint, with each an improvement on the other.
The next day I walked in the same are. When I reached the area near Willi Brandt Place I had a Wine Experience – more than anything this makes me want to go back. The tent was for the Rollanderhof winery, they had a large selection of perhaps 20 wines. It was a large tent, with 4 people working, and perhaps 100 customers standing around sampling wine. There was a sign for erdbeer, strawberry wine, that seemed special so I ordered it. The glass came with small pieces of fresh strawberries floating on top. I’ve tried a number of strawberry wines in the US and have always been disappointed. This is the first time I’ve tasted the pure fresh flavor of the fruit. And it must be said, the strawberries in Germany have so much more flavor that any carried by a store in the US. Next I tried a Riesling and was transported. All the wines were about a euro to taste and most under 10 for the bottle. To stand here and talk and taste these exquisite wines – it is wine culture, a very special thing.
Then I went to the Stadl museum of Art. I was there in March, so didn’t feel I had to view every piece, but gave myself time in the sections I enjoy. Again, the German Medieval work is well represented but my favorites are the German Expressionists and 19th century painters. It is hard to find a good selection of Expressionist works in the US (here I would group the Nabis, Symbolists, and even the perhaps the Fauves). I think our view of art is dominated by Impressionism leading up to abstractionism. Most museums will have a Bonnard or Vuillard but never a whole room devoted to them. The Stadl has a deep selection of Romantics leading to those contemporaries of the Impressionists (like Louis Corinth) who had a similar outlook but a darker palette. My favorites are the Expressionists, particularly Beckman and Kirchner. It was really fun to see Beckman’s painting of the Frankfurt train station and compare it with the site. He does an admirable job of simplifying and condensing the complex scene.
That evening I went again to my favorite section of town, Albert Schweitzer Place, intending to get a classic German meal. I started with wine, which was quite disappointing after my magical experience earlier. So I left and went to a great place I went to in March, the Edelweiss – an Austrian restaurant. The dinner was wonderful, the flavors concentrated, and I had some nice Austrian wines. Again though, the morning experience was the best.
The next day I took a train to Rudescheim. I’d considered Eltville and Wiesbaden, both of which I passed, but this was a good choice (thanks to the helpful person at the information booth near the Dom). Rudescheim is wine country. The banks of the Rhine are steep here, and this South facing vista is especially choice. The downtown is quaint, but quite touristy, becoming less so the further you leave the water. Around the tourist area are beautiful houses, nestled in the hillside. And above the houses are grape vines.
I walked quite a ways, unfortunately one winery I searched out was hosting a wedding so was not open (beautiful courtyard- love to go back). In the market area near the Church were tents for food and wine. The wine was quite good and the atmosphere was wonderful. Tables spread out everywhere, some in the sun (yuch) some in the shade, everyone with a glass of wine. There was also music, which was unfortunate. There was also a marching band in town, with big bearskin hats and drum majorettes. Every once in a while they would march by. I’d been unable to avoid the sun, and new I was burned (and tired), but before I left I visited another special winery, Georg Breuer. The first Riesling I tried had a very long finish, and the mineral style I prefer. It was the best wine so far. The second glass I tried was far more intense, a very serious wine. I bought a bottle of the lesser wine, figuring that my chances of getting it home are not good. I now regret not getting the other.
I must figure out how to bring back wine. There must be a way to bring back a case?
I want to stay in the Ringhotel Central in Rudesheim, it really looked lovely.